My husband had a heart attack when our three children were all under the age of six, the youngest just a newborn.
I was working a fifty-hour-a-week job and, in off hours with my coworkers, developing an on-site daycare center. I volunteered with the PTA, which meant more to me than my work. I loved being with my children but I was only occasionally able to spend much time with them.
My husband and I had been partners in childcare and household duties. During the week he did most of the cooking and shopping. Now his only job was to heal. I felt I had to protect him from the stress of caring for the two older children. Bathing, dressing, feeding, playing, bedtime stories, and doctors’ appointments all fell on my shoulders. The only thing my husband could do was to hold the baby while I did everything else.
One month later, my father-in-law died. He was integral to our family, and his passing left a huge hole in our hearts and in our lives.
A few months later my mother died under tragic circumstances. She was a great mom to my sisters and me, and as a grandmother my children adored her. My dad had died ten years earlier. Since then she had struggled with loneliness and depression. I despaired that I had not been able to protect her from her inner demons. She lived just a few miles away, and when she passed, yet another gaping hole opened in our lives.
At the best of times I would have staggered under these multiple blows. Now I didn’t even have my husband to lean on. He needed all his strength to heal, and I couldn’t burden him with my struggles as well.
Finally one Sunday morning at church, I reached my limit. I was so worried about everything that I was hardly sleeping. I didn’t know what God could do about this avalanche of troubles, but clearly I couldn’t handle it myself. I surrendered completely to Him.
“Please release me from this stress,” I prayed. For the next weeks at home, work, and church, that was my constant prayer. “Please release me from this stress.”
The solution God found was one I never imagined and would certainly not have chosen myself. I lost my job. I’d been there twelve years, and getting laid off meant the loss (again) of people who were as dear to me as my own relatives. It was traumatic to be severed from something so central to my self-definition.
Immediately, though, it freed up a lot of time! Fifty obligated hours a week, plus after-hours on the daycare project—GONE! The loss of income meant we had to live more simply. But fifty percent of my salary had been spent paying others to look after our children while I worked. Not having that expense, using our savings, and the severance package I got made it not so bad.
Now I could help my husband exercise, cook the foods he needed to heal, assist him in managing his business, spend time with my children, and volunteer even more at their school. For the next five years I was a stay-at-home mom and loved it.
Losing my job was at first so harrowing that it took me awhile to realize it was a masterstroke by God in answer to my prayer.